November 23, 2017

Archives for January 30, 2013

Are Lawyers Unhappy? (Part 2)

rhodes

This is Part 2 of a series of articles on lawyers and happiness. Click here for Part 1.

Guess what? Happy people make happy workers! That seems intuitive; there’s also research to back it up.

How do lawyers measure up in that regard? Not so well. Research shows that, even though we’re as happy with our work as the next person, we’re generally not happy people. Some people think this is because the personality traits that make good lawyers don’t make happy people.

Happiness research focuses on three key factors: personality traits, personal choices, and circumstances. These weigh in at roughly 50%, 40%, and 10%, respectively, which means that 50% of us just seem blessed with sunnier outlooks on life, while another 40% can get there only by “adaptive behavior” – i.e., cultivating happiness-producing habits and an upbeat attitude.

Neither group is much affected by circumstances – including how much money they make – which factor in at only 10%. Although both groups take a nosedive from major stressors like job loss or relationship breakups, both also tend to recover to predictable “personal happiness set points,” where the 50% find a customary sense of well-being which the other 40% can’t reach without considerable effort.

Some researchers think the percentage of temperamentally unhappy lawyers is higher than 40%, because the very traits that incline us toward unhappiness are the same ones that account for our successes in life and our choice of law as a career. For example, the authors of the book The Happy Lawyer conclude that the practice of law is “disproportionately filled” with people who tend to be less happy than the general populace, citing research that shows we’re more introverted and less socially connected, more doubt-ridden and inclined to consider worst case scenarios, more logical and less in touch with our feelings, as well as being achievement-oriented, aggressive, and competitive to a fault – all factors that weigh against personal happiness. If that’s true, then most lawyers are part of the 40% (or more) whose happiness in the practice of law and in life can swing either way, depending on how well we adapt.

If we’re not part of the naturally sunny 50%, then what can we do? We can start by realizing that, as Einstein said, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” If we want to get to a newer, happier place in law and in life, we won’t be able to rely on what got us here.

Giving up what’s always worked for us won’t be easy, even if research shows it’s making us miserable. Not easy maybe, but not impossible either.

To be continued.

After 20+ years in private practice, Kevin Rhodes recently gave himself the title “Change Guru” to describe his work helping individuals and organizations to make transformative changes. He leads lead workshops on that topic for a variety of audiences, including the CBA’s Job Search and Career Transitions Support Group. Check out his website at http://kevin-rhodes.com/.

Finalists Selected for Vacancy on Bent County Court Bench

On Tuesday, January 29, 2013, the Sixteenth Judicial District Nominating Commission announced its selection of three nominees to fill the vacancy on the bench of the Bent County Court. The vacancy is created by the appointment of Hon. Mark A. MacDonnell to the bench of the Sixteenth Judicial District court, effective February 3, 2013.

The three nominees are Marcus Behm of Manzanola, Julie Jones of La Junta, and Samuel Vigil of La Junta. Contact information for the nominees is available on the Judicial Branch website.

Under the Colorado Constitution, the governor has 15 days from January 29, 2013, to appoint one of the nominees to the bench. If the governor does not appoint one of the nominees within the 15 days, then the chief justice of the Colorado Supreme Court must appoint one of the nominees.

Tenth Circuit: Hearsay Evidence at Supervised Release Revocation Hearing Properly Admitted for Sentencing Purposes

The Tenth Circuit published its opinion in United States v. Ruby on Tuesday, January 29, 2013.

Joey Ruby was on supervised release following a conviction for being a felon in possession of a gun. One of the conditions of his supervised release was that Ruby not commit any other crimes. While on supervised release, Ruby was convicted of third-degree assault in Colorado state court. As a result, the district court revoked Ruby’s release and sentenced him to eighteen months’ imprisonment.  He appealed the sentence on the grounds that the district court erred in considering hearsay testimony at sentencing from three witnesses to the assault.

Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 32.1(b)(2)(C) provides that at a revocation hearing, the defendant must have “an opportunity . . . to question any adverse witness unless the court determines that the interest of justice does not require the witness to appear.” This means that a court at a revocation hearing may consider hearsay evidence as long as it makes the necessary “interest of justice” determination. Ruby argued the court did not comply with Rule 32.1’s procedures and then compounded the mistake by basing his sentence on unreliable hearsay testimony.

Rule 32.1 was enacted to codify due process guarantees that apply to revocation hearings. See Curtis v. Chester, 626 F.3d 540, 545 (10th Cir. 2010). In particular, the rule was designed to ensure at revocation hearings the ability of defendants to an independent judicial officer and the right to adversary proceedings. Unlike at a criminal trial where the Federal Rules of Evidence limit the types of admissible evidence, at a sentencing hearing the court can have access to any relevant information, as long as it adheres to a preponderance of the evidence standard.

Because all the documents at the hearing were based on the post-accident police report, because Ruby did not even raise in the district court any hearsay concerns, and because the corroborating statements of three relatively neutral witnesses helped establish the reliability of the victim’s statement to the police officer, the Tenth Circuit rejected Ruby’s challenge to the evidence offered at sentencing.

The Tenth Circuit concluded the district court did not err in considering the testimony, and AFFIRMED the district court’s sentence.

HB 13-1019: Enactment of the “Regulatory Reform Act of 2013” to Facilitate Compliance with New Rules by Small Businesses

On January 9, 2013, Rep. Libby Szabo and Sen. Lois Tochtrop introduced HB 13-1019 – Concerning State Agency Requirements for the Enforcement of New Regulatory Requirements on Small Businesses, and, in Connection Therewith, Enacting the “Regulatory Reform Act of 2013.” This summary is published here courtesy of the Colorado Bar Association’s e-Legislative Report.

This bill enacts the “Regulatory Reform Act of 2013.” The bill makes legislative declarations about the importance of businesses with 500 or fewer employees to the Colorado economy and the difficulty these types of businesses have in complying with new administrative rules that are not known or understood by these businesses. The bill defines “new rule” as any regulatory requirement in existence for less than one year prior to an audit or review by a state agency, and “minor violation” as any violation of a new rule by a business of 500 or fewer employees where the violation is minor in nature, involving record-keeping and issues that do not affect the life safety of the public or workers.

For the first minor violation of a new rule by a business of 500 or fewer employees, the bill requires a state agency to issue a written warning and engage the business in educational outreach as to the methods of complying with the new rule. The bill requires state agencies to make information on new rules available and allows this information to be made available in electronic form. Assigned to the State, Veterans, & Military Affairs Appropriations Committee.

HB 13-1017: Requiring Successor Loan Servicers to Honor Modification Terms Offered by Predecessor Loan Servicers

On January 9, 2013, Rep. Steve Lebsock introduced HB 13-1017 – Concerning a Requirement that Successor Servicers of Residential Mortgage Loans Follow Through with Loan Modifications Offered to Borrowers, and, in Connection Therewith, Requiring a Servicer to Inform a Successor Servicer of the Terms of Any Modification Offer Upon Any Transfer of Servicing Rights for the Loan. This summary is published here courtesy of the Colorado Bar Association’s e-Legislative Report.

The bill addresses situations in which a homeowner has been offered a modified payment schedule or other loan modifications by one loan servicer, but the loan is then transferred to another loan servicer, which enforces the loan according to its original terms without regard to the modification offer.

The bill requires a loan servicer that has made any such offer to notify a successor loan servicer of the terms of the offer upon transfer of the servicing rights, and states that the successor servicer is subject to, and shall honor the homeowner’s acceptance of, the offer.

The bill adds a violation of these requirements to the existing list of violations for which a homeowner may sue for actual damages plus a $1,000 additional penalty, attorney fees, and costs. On Jan. 24, the bill was amended and approved by the Business, Labor, Economic, & Workforce Development Committee.

Since this summary, the bill passed Second Reading Special Order with amendments and passed Third Reading in the House.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 1/29/13

On Tuesday, January 29, 2013, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued two published opinions and six unpublished opinions.

Smith v. McCord

Tenison v. Morgan

Howell v. Centric Group

United States v. White

American Movie Classics v. Rainbow Media Holdings

Santana v. Muscogee (Creek) Nation

No case summaries are provided for unpublished opinions. However, published opinions are summarized and provided by Legal Connection.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 1/28/13

On Monday, January 28, 2013, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued no published opinions and three unpublished opinions.

United States v. Beadles

Adewuyi v. Holder

Burns v. Jones

No case summaries are provided for unpublished opinions. However, published opinions are summarized and provided by Legal Connection.